WMU News

Dance showcased this weekend at Chenery

Jan. 23, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- WMU's Department of Dance will present its Winter Concert of Dance at Chenery Auditorium on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26, beginning at 8 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased at the Gilmore Theatre Complex Box Office or by calling 269 387-6222. General admission is $16. Tickets are $12 each for WMU faculty and staff, and $7 for students with a valid WMU ID. Chenery Auditorium is located at the corner of Vine St. and Westnedge Ave. in Kalamazoo.

The concert will include dances by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, alumna Anastasia Wozniak McGlothlin, dance faculty David Curwen and Lindsey Thomas and dance major Cheryl Powers.

The dances by Balanchine and Taylor will be produced under the auspices of the department's Great Works Project, a program launched in 1996 that is designed to introduce students and audiences to the work of major choreographers. This year's great works are George Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes" and Paul Taylor's "Junction" and "3 Epitaphs." Former Balanchine ballerina, Sandra Jennings staged "Stars and Stripes" in November. Former Paul Taylor dancer, Mary Cochran staged "Junction" and "3 Epitaphs" on WMU dancers in late November. Each of these guest artists taught master classes while in residence.

The department has received grants from national agencies and local organizations for the Great Works Project. They include a National College Choreography Initiative (NCCI) grant that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by Dance/USA. WMU was the only college or university in Michigan to receive this grant. The Kalamazoo Plaza Arts Circle and WMU's Cultural Events Committee provide additional support for the Great Works Project. The costs of producing McGlothlin's dance have been underwritten by Orchesis Dance Society, WMU's student dance organization.

"Stars and Stripes" contains as much pure dancing as many full-length classical ballets. The work is divided into five "campaigns" danced by "regiments" of 13 dancers to different Sousa themes. The complete ballet includes two women's regiments, one men's regiment, a pas de deux with variations and coda, and a closing finale for 41 dancers. The Department of Dance will perform both women's campaign and the pas de deux.

"Stars and Stripes" has been performed on several auspicious occasions, including Nelson Rockefeller's inauguration as governor of New York, for tributes to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and for the opening ceremonies of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. Most recently it was performed during a fund-raising program of Balanchine Americana ballets to benefit the survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"3 Epitaphs" by modern dance icon, Paul Taylor, is considered one of his first and enduring hits. The dance has five dancers of different heights and personalities who are identically dressed in gray, with full head coverings and gloves to which are attached little reflecting mirrors. Renowned American artist Robert Rauschenberg designed costumes for the work. The work, which premiered in 1956, is performed to an early form of jazz that was originally played at weddings and funerals in the southern United States. The dancers' slouchy movement to the early New Orleans jazz music creates an effect that is both funny and ghoulish.

"Junction," a spry and witty dance, is another Great Work on the program by Paul Taylor. The dance is performed by seven dancers and is set to excerpts from Solo Suites for Violincello #1 and #4 by J. S. Bach. The dance premiered in 1961 and reflects Taylor's fascination with watching pedestrians on the street. He is quoted as saying the dance takes place "as pedestrians cross at the intersection of 'Tranquility Street and Turmoil Boulevard.'"

WMU alumna Anastasia Wozniak McGlothlin earned the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance in 1988 and returned to campus in September to perform with her Louisville-based company, Art, ArtBarking Dog Dance Company and to stage her dance "Letting Go" on WMU dance majors. "Letting Go" explores the tumultuous period in a young female adolescent's development when struggling to differentiate from her mother and deal with the pressures of her peer-group.

Members of the Western Dance Project will have the opportunity to perform with The Collegiate Singers in instructor David Curwen's "She Tells Her Love." "Mid-Winter Songs" by Morten Lauridsen will be performed by the 78 voices of The Collegiate Singers under the direction of Dr. Joe Miller of the WMU School of Music. Western Dance Project has been augmented by additional dance students to form a cast of 23 dancers who will embrace themes of loss, comfort, estrangement and hope.

Lindsey Thomas will restage her 1984 work "Neighbors Remembered," which is performed to Summer Sketches by Dave Grusin. "Neighbors Remembered" was created in memory of an elderly couple that resided next door to Thomas when she moved into her first house. The couple reminded her of traditional neighborhoods where everyone knew their neighbors and befriended and assisted them.

"Under Moonlight" performed to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" was choreographed by dance major Cheryl Powers. The dance was selected for inclusion in this concert by the dance faculty Powers uses 90-degree angles in her movement to create a powerful counterpoint to the music. Initially each dancer portrays individualism and ultimately moves towards a unity that symbolizes a common reality.

Media contact: Trudy Cobb at 269 387-5834, trudy.cobb@wmich.edu

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